DISAPPOINTED: Dominicans showing lack of interest in learning French

Pascal Tomasini

(DNO) Director of Alliance Francaise de la Dominique Pascal Tomasini has expressed disappointment in the level of interest shown by locals towards learning French with the organisation.

“I am a little bit disappointed about this. Because I think that people from Dominica are scared of French languages. They are not scared of French people; they are scared of speaking French,” Tomasini, who has served as the director of the institution for the past seven months, told Dominica news Online in an interview.

He said that the native Creole language, which has a fair percentage of French, gives locals an advantage in learning the language but this still does not motivate persons to register.

“This is the national language, Creole, but 40 percent of this language is French language and they know some basics, and for them it should not be so difficult to go forward and to know French. And most of them have relatives living in Guadeloupe, in Martinique, and their neighbours are French people. If they have to do business and fill out forms in Guadeloupe and Martinique they would have to fill in some forms. They would not have to fill it in Creole. They would have to fill it out in French…,” Tomasini said.

“It seems that people are more interested in Spanish. I think because maybe Spanish classes are free. I don’t know. Well the close neighbours….. For me it’s disappointing to see so few people coming to Alliance Francaise and learning French,” the director said.

The director however expressed optimism for a turnaround in statistics for 2011.

“So I hope it will work a little bit more for the next year. We did a lot of advertising. We tried to insist on the fact of the proximity of the two French islands and these relations between Dominica and Guadeloupe, its relationship between Dominica and Martinique….,” he said.

Tomasini stated that he is also hoping to form collaborations with the organisations such as Discover Dominica Authority and the World Creole Music Festival among others in the near future.

The Alliance Francaise is headed by a board which is elected by members of Alliance Francaise. It offers French and artistic courses to individuals of various age groups.

The local organisation offers translation services.

French movies with English titles are aired every last Wednesday of the month at the organisation.

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  1. thekingofitassi
    December 17, 2012

    Those that want to learn French fine go ahead and do so, those that don’t, well do not pursue it – your choice, and I am glad to see that some Dominicans are taking the opportunity to learn other languages as the world is changing and as more nations where English is not the first language become more economically empowered and can break free of the AmeriKKKan/British dominance you will find that nations such as Dominica will be doing more business with various trading bloc outside of the US/UK cartels. Forwar ever and backward never, and to Monsiuer Tomassini you need to do something that can make your classes more appealing to the average Dominican in terms of costs and scholarships etc – great concept, poorly executed and delivered! Au Revoir.

    October 30, 2012


  3. April 12, 2012


  4. dominique
    May 19, 2010

    Learn French?

    Well i did French for cxc and got a one! Now i have forgotten almost everything i learnt because i don’t get the opportunity to practise it.i can ‘t go to Guadeloupe,niether can i go to Martinique.

    I Love Spanish,it’s easier and you could get scholarships to go to study.
    One has to pay for french classes and all they give us is restrictions in return!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Bath Estate
    May 17, 2010

    When somebody can give me a good reason why every thing has to be either masculine and a feminine, i will bother myself to learn a foreign language, but for now, hold it for all youself.

  6. expensive
    May 16, 2010

    3oo dollar bring down price of the class an i will be there

  7. J Vidal
    May 16, 2010

    i understand the disappointment of the Alliance Francaise director.
    however, i agree with “only observing”
    i do believe that their teaching structure should be revised.
    knowledge is power and learning a new language broadens your horizons.
    they say that we are between two French island but our connections are very minimal.
    Dominica one a whole through my understanding has very little connections/ ties with french countries and people.
    even if we learn the language we cannot really apply it as we will rarely be in contact with these people. ‘french related jobs’ are not available
    i don’t think that french scholarships are even offered to our youth and individuals interested.
    hence our people are less motivated to learn the language.
    i understand Mr Tomasine but more needs to be done to encourage the learning of the french language.,
    i personnaly love the language and all that comes with it.
    and with the knowledge that i hope to acquire in this language, i want to invest my skills in my country,
    not migrating to develop a foreigner’s place

    • Interesting Stuff
      May 17, 2010

      mm… i agree with JVidal and Bagguyla.

      I remember when I was in 3rd form I had to choose between french and spanish and so many of us chose french seeing that we were so close to the french islands and also because we thought the creole would make it easier. Well it did make it easy but being between two french countries did not help at all. I love french and will always. I actually majored in it at the DSC, but up to this day that’s all I’ve got. It is said that, to further your studies in french you need to be in a french country..ok…so why not offer scholarships or make things easier for us????My cousin went through hell with Government and French authorities just trying to get help to go to a french university to complete her course. She finally came to her senses that that was a dead end and is now pursuing other courses. Most of the students who did french with me have or still are completing their studies in other areas such as business and so on. As for the french? They have forgotten mostly all they did in college for lack of french correspondents. Not talking down on Alliance or anything or discouraging anyone out there who wants to do french, but just giving my 8 cents. Sometimes i feel like I wasted years but then again had I not taken that path in life, i might not have been here where i am today. (Jobless but the happiest person alive :)

  8. Bagguyla
    May 16, 2010

    Alors Monsieur Tomasini, to answer your question you need to examine the immigration policies of your country which makes it very difficult for us to visit our supposedly sister islands. We are so close physically and culturally however there are many barriers in the way of the kind of cooperation we would like to have with them. The French Government pretended to facilitate travel to Martinique and Guadeloupe by removing visa restrictions to replace it with a very complicated process to access these islands in particular the famous certificat d’hebergement which involves a lot of unnecessary bureaucratic details. It is has become so difficult to travel to the French islands now that I am not surprised that persons may be more inclined to study spanish because there are many more opportunities there. In all respect to you Sir the French need to do some introspection as to the way they treat us.

    May 15, 2010

    I wish I had time to read all the comments, but I don’t. I will just say my two cents. In times past, before you got your ‘job’ in Dominica, we built businesses by trading in the french islands. Due to some very unfortunate events, the french have decided that they will make it extremely difficult for us to even visit or vacation in their country. Well guess what, we have no interest in their language. Sorry, this is a two way street. When the french get our their high horse, then we can think of learning frenh. In the mean time, bonne chance!!

  10. reader
    May 15, 2010

    Response, you hit the nail on the head ,the cabeza, tete. my exact line of thought.
    What does Mr. Dominique Le Penn expect. If his country allows a man who speaks no french ,extremely poor at creole and horrible at English to have their passport why learn french?
    He may have put the P.M on the spot .I hereby suggest that he(the P.M) utilize his free time in learning french rather than trying to lace all the sk…..s around him. He will soon need it when the revolution takes place on the Commonwealthof DA.He may have to follow the path of Baby Doc Duvalier. Mr.Tomassini maybe part and parcel of the french connexion.
    R. D Skeerit should re-educate himself in more ways than one.First recommended reading is by Walter Rodney: How Euroupe(including france) underdeveloped Africa. D/cans will begin to understand the mining operations and by extension the chinese connexion. See the first thing they tried to put their hands on our water. The 21 st century’s most valuable asset.
    Mr.Ettinoffe recent was on radio educating the public on water levels, purity etc. co-incidently,I was reading an article on chinese information which made me laugh and lolo at that. The chinese were telling a water company filtration was not essential.If they had some monks pray at the water source it would be purified. So much for chinese information.What we have to be every so vigilant about is our soverinity it’s slowly slip sliding away, right before our very eyes. The chinese are here the venezuelans, who else? manipulation from all fronts.See them jockeying for position?
    Skerrit in need of reeducation continues to give red carpet treatment to foreigners fighting his opposition to extinction as and the opposition is just as guilty fighting a losing battle as the D/cas at home MOST are to young to understand the process( lacking knowledge ofhistory)The P.M included.
    Those who know better continue to switch sides to their apparent profit not real. Then we have the christians and rasta who don’t participate making it easy for the forces of corruption to triumph.

    May 15, 2010

    i dont know what he fees are like, but maybe u could try moving to the country side, decentralise

  12. May 14, 2010

    Do we have any French business in D/ca,,, like auto, fishing tools, boats…

    well it would be interesting to learn another language, but why waste money on something that you cann’t use here.

    Guadelope and martinique are our closest neighbours but yet still they seem to be as far as Australia in terms of connections.

    Learning french, for educational as a teacher reinforcement, business like ,yes .. but otherwise to greet others?

  13. Only Observing.
    May 14, 2010

    I do believe that learning another languages is very important, the French language is no exception. I took classes at AF as beginner and it was not an experience that I would wish to repeat. I would have liked to have a program tailored for the level of the adult beginner and there was not. The classes did not quite cater for that.
    There was no course outline nor recommended textbook or work book which I could use for preparation, studying and measuring my progress. In addition, I am a working adult and for something which I was doing as a hobby, I did not want have to go to sit in a classroom twice per week.
    I wanted to learn to language but with more fun/excitement. I wanted to be able to look forward to the next class because of the interest it generated. I did not just want to attend classes because I had paid my money.
    I think that the program means well, but it needs to be more student friendly. I do believe that education can be costly, but it must be accessible to those whom you wish to target.

    May I suggest that an evaluation of the program be done to determine why there seems to be such a low level of interest in the program.

  14. Anonymous
    May 14, 2010

    When all u start to show respect to us then we will be interested in all u.

  15. Zang
    May 14, 2010

    The cheapest place a Dominican Malewe could travel cheaply to before was the french islands. They did not have to go to England or America. The islands were suffice.
    But now we have to get visa, have insurance and immigration giving you so much stress. I am not saying we might not have brought it on ourselves. But why should parents encourage children. or adults take interest in a language they almost have no use for. How many Belgians or Canadien do we meet in D/ca every day.

    Every investment has to reap a reward…better waste my time making money some other way.

  16. May 14, 2010

    I thought Dominica was an English country that got it’s independence from England.

  17. gwada people
    May 14, 2010

    Well Dominicans, learning french has nothing to do with Dominica lying between Guadeloupe &
    martinique, having the classes free or to get a job in Guadeloupe.

    The world has changed in th 40’s speecking one language was enough, but in 2010 it’s
    different. Take eg on the st lucians, their AF is doing good, they are trying thier best to attrack the
    francophone tourists from Belgium, Quebec and France.

    We need our TAXI Drivers, Hotel workers, Restaurant worker etc…. to talk french , spanish and even
    more. They say that we will be having night landing soon,our police and custom officers, it would
    be good to welcome visitor in french & spanish.

    As you all know there are many dominican public worker, leaders etc… who are also french,US &
    spanish citizens, when you all will see them tomorrow in town ask them what do they think of all
    these comment that i have seen so far.

    Please dominicans check with Dr honeychurch to learn how rich was past , we were producing and
    doing good business with the french not gpe & Mq but the french.

  18. Prophet2
    May 14, 2010

    It is logical to learn French because of our history but mostly because we are sandwiched tween 2 French Islands. It is also logical to learn Spanish since we are slowly becoming a Venezuelan colony.

    Down with ALBA and long live the OECS.

    • May 14, 2010

      There are factors beyond politics that are affecting interest in French. Teaching method for example???, especially when French is generally considered more difficult than Spanish.
      If ALBA is working for our people, VIVA Spanish, if French is not, ABAJO French. It’s that simple.

      Besides, the world and things affecting Dca extend way beyond Guadeloupe and Martinique.
      There are emerging markets in Latin America, India and other parts of the world with which we do business and have interests in.

      French is important, but it’s importance should not be overexaggerated as to make inferior other foreign languages like Portuguese, Russian, Chinese and Spanish just because we are located next door to Martinique.

      Alliance Francaise needs to find new ways of encouraging public interest. Do not be so quick to cry down our people because parents and professionals spend a lot of money investing in education.

  19. Opportunity
    May 14, 2010

    The people of dominica don’t realize when a great thing is in front of them. Tell them to pay for a class to learn another language…it is too much money. Tell them it have a sewo on the weekend, they will buy ticket, clothes, shoes and have to spend money at the sewo for food and drinks. Think about it, i am not saying that you should not enjoy yourself and have fun…one life to live, however, learning french can take you to a world of opportunities. Take advantage dominicans and build up yourselves with knowledge that noone can ever take away from you!

      May 17, 2010

      I want you to find out how many hours do the French devote to learning English. They have English speaking islands on either side of them also, but you don’t hear them forcing their children to take English classes and whatnot. Most French people can read English and have an understanding of what they read, but ask them to speak English…is there you hold them. So shut up about it. If people have an interest in learning French, they will find the money and time to learn it. Don’t force the issue.

  20. Interesting
    May 14, 2010

    I dont know if it’s just me but I find that Alliance Francaise “appears” to cater more to the elite or “well to do” in our society With their prices and their programs. So if you are a poor person you may feel intimidated to join them.

    Dominicans go where they feel comfortable.Why dont you do a survey to find out why people dont come to your classes? I dont see Mr. Tomasini anywhere doing anything. Perhaps you need to be more visible and involved in the society like the Spanish?…Just saying.By the way I love french and I speak the language.

  21. May 14, 2010

    Mr, Tomasisni
    I am very happy you came to the public with this concern. But it has been around for some time now in certain groups of individuals locally; many of whom at some point in time were very active in the Alliance Francaise but were disappointed and after years lost interest.

    1. The Director: Directors before such as Mr. Moulton and Jose Pliya were very active and offered many incentives to locals to attend classes. There was theatre, art, fete de gastronomie, latin night, affordable weekend trips to Guadeloupe and Martinique, creole classes, singing, poetry and dictation competitions… you just name it. Directors who came after did not seem so interested in such activities.

    2. After many years of involvement in the Alliance Francaise, which is our main access to France in terms of French education, and given the number of years that the AF has been established in Dominica, one would be delighted to be assisted to go to France or even Martinique or Guadeloupe next door to pursue studies. But instead, accessing schools and higher education possibilities in France is very difficult, almost impossible.
    We see China, Venezuela, Russia, Mexico, Cuba and the US offering orientation and recruitment programmes, scholarships to Dominicans, and the France through the AF or the AF through France… nothing.

    It is a shame therefore, when our people and active members of AF go to Mexico, China, Cuba and Russia to study French. French teachers struggle for years to obtain degrees in French and fund their own studies with little or no input from the AF through the French government to study in France, Maritnique or Guadeloupe, even after teaching classes at AF for 5, 6, 7 years and more.

    At the end of it, our people love the language and music, but are unable to benefit from studying the language, and as a result do not see the use in spending the money and investing time to do classes at AF.

    China and Mexico came in the picture recently but in the short space of time have done wonders.
    Based on performance at Spanish classes at the Venezuelan Institue many Dominicans have successfully pursued degrees in Venezuela, not in Spanish, but in other fields of study and were simultaneously able to acquire the Spanish language.
    We are unable to say these things for the AF which has for very long been a sleeping giant, and for the past few years was transformed into a translation institute and not a language and opportunity generating institute.

    I do hope that my comments are of some use to you. Welcome to Dominica, and I will be listening closely to hear what new you are going to offer to revive the AF. Maybe I will pay a visit like I used to.

  22. Klinton Anselm FollowUp Response
    May 14, 2010

    I fowarded my thoughts to a dear friend and i was topedeoed to read her simalar response, and she replied as thus:
    I do not like the way the story is so negative towards Dominicans. Maybe Director of Alliance Francaise de la Dominique Pascal Tomasini should conduct some research into the lack of interest, for Dominicans love to learn, and adjust his French classes to the findings instead of expressing disappointment without any due diligence. Since our Creole is 40% of the French language maybe he needs to develop new ways to make the French language appealing to us.

  23. da
    May 14, 2010

    Don’t mind furthering knowledge in French but all the classes are in Roseau. Why not try something in Portsmouth too? Not sure if something had been done yet but…

  24. Educated
    May 14, 2010

    The classes are too expensive, moreover, there are far more scholarships to spanish speaking countries. I suggest a review of the prices for the classes. The spanish classes are FREE!!!

  25. ushouldkno
    May 14, 2010

    ya, de spanish for free at the institute. Maybe u should think of giving a few free classes now and then, or lower the cost of the classes.

  26. Wayne.C
    May 14, 2010

    French should be taught from first grade as we do English. When my grandmother went to school in 1934 for the first time; the only language she knew was French Creole or rather Antillean Creole. English was learnt at school. Thus, teaching French and English throughout ones 12 years in public or private school would make french a core of Dominican Society, remember many people like my grandmother did not know English until they went to school, so the country could have gone either way. Learning French for me as a Dominica was a breeze. I think if I had learnt it in elementary it would have been easier instead of learning it in high school as I did. Moreover, we should also teach Creole in school as it is somewhat disappearing in its full glory. And to end, we should have more media in French and French Creole to entertain and inform the populous. If all we see is English programming and literature what sense is it to learn French or speak French Creole?

  27. May 14, 2010

    i wish i was in DA to take this opportunity. My favorite language

  28. new york
    May 14, 2010

    but even u learn french and u move too guadeloupe and martinque u are not goin too get a job i know that for sure

    • Interesting Stuff
      May 17, 2010

      lol… you’re making me laugh, but I know what you’re saying is true!

  29. Klinton Anselm
    May 14, 2010

    Greetings, Director of Alliance Francaise de la Dominique Pascal Tomasini, it saddens me to read about your disappointment, however as a native born Dominican residing overseas and have spent time visiting France.
    It”s no major wonder of the lack of interest to learn French. I learned German(Duetche), Korean(Hangul) Spanish(Espanol’) and currently enrolled in a FREE conversational course in Chinese.

    Hint maybe make the cost of learning this more reasonable to the people of Dominica. Yes the creole language is so closely related, yet I have to say

    “What is or has France being doing for these countries”…I dont see an abundance of open arms from the French.Hint Hint…I bid you the best of regards in trying to make France and the french people more accepting to the free world.

  30. steve
    May 14, 2010


    • Reasoning
      May 14, 2010

      Ridiculous comment

  31. lisad
    May 14, 2010

    I wish I lived in Dominica and had the chance to learn french.

    • children of Assisi
      May 14, 2010


  32. hmm i tel ya
    May 14, 2010

    well sir thats dominica for you, difficult to do any business. if you survive more than a year you’re good. dominicans are cheap and like freeness. tell em 5 dollars and they say its too much. but say its free and the whole dominica in your place and complaining while tax dept and ss on your back every day and you aint making no money. take ur business elsewhere

  33. FRENCH
    May 14, 2010

    i agree to that 100 %

  34. May 14, 2010

    come on people, grab the chance to learn Frence,

    • volcano
      May 14, 2010

      the french plp donot care about us y study their language and make them more popular?
      no scholarships, no workshops, just immigration treating us like beggers. tupes donne with that language. i will go where am wanted. the spanish. they have given more than asked for

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